Archive for the ‘Piracy’ Category

“PC Action Games on the Decline” or “PC RPG Games on the Rise”

June 9, 2010 Leave a comment

I have been a PC gamer for as long as I can remember. Actually that is a lie, because prior to getting my Commodore 64 (you’re still in my thoughts baby, *sniff*), I was developing carpal tunnel using the Atari Joystick. But beyond those days, I have always been, and I suspect always will be, a PC gamer. Sure I play games on the the Xbox, and very infrequently on the PlayStation as well, but for me, the PC will always be the ultimate gaming machine.

More recently I have been pained to see a few disturbing trends in the gaming industry. The first of these trends is the rise of PC game piracy across the world. Cevat Yerli, CEO of Crytek, in an interview to IGN in 2008, claimed that for every copy of a PC game sold, 15-20 were pirated. A recent report from the Entertainment Software Association said that over 9.78 million games were successfully downloaded illegally during the month of December 2009 alone (and I am willing to bet that a large chunk of this was pirated copies of Modern Warfare 2). This trend has led to a decline in interest from developers who cannot justify the development costs against poor sales since most of the product is going to get pirated around the world anyway.

The second trend, that of controversial DRM, is a symptom of the first, and has resulted in a fairly strong (and mostly justified) backlash from the gamer community. That in turn, will have the inevitable side-effect of further alienating developers from making PC Games, comments from Blizzard’s Frank Pearce notwithstanding. Another trend is the inexplicable need to delay the PC version of games that were simultaneously developed for all platforms. The console versions, Xbox 360 being especially guilty of this trend, seems to be given preference, with the PC counterpart getting released a few days to several weeks later.

This decline in developers’ interest to invest in PC games would have an inevitable effect in the number of titles produced each year, or at least that is what I believe. And while my theory holds true in some genres (action games for instance), it is completely invalidated by the rise of RPG gaming on PC rigs. Kotaku, saddling up for the rabid excitement that will inevitably surround the around-the-corner E3 event, has released two lists of games that they think will take the cake in two categories: Action and RPG.

The first list, titled E3 2010 Preview: These Are the Big Action Games, We Think, can be found here. The contents of this list can be summarized in numbers, by platform, as follows:

  • DS (I)
  • PC (IIII)
  • Wii (IIII)
  • PSP (II)
  • Xbox 360 (IIII.IIII.III)
  • XBLA (I)
  • PSN (I)

It should be immediatly apparent that PC games seem to be the neglected bastard child of this batch, with the Xbox 360 and PS3 seeing nearly three times the number of action games as the PC. Perhaps some of this interest in console action games can be attributed to the blockbuster success of titles like Modern Warfare 2, sales of which broke records for the console version, and were dismal at best for the PC version.

The second list, titled E3 2010 Preview: These Are the Big RPGs, We Think, can be found here. The contents of this list can be summarized in numbers by platform as follows:

  • DS (III)
  • Wii (I)
  • Xbox 360 (IIII.IIII)
  • PSP (II)

The pattern clearly falls apart here. The personal computer sees an unprecedented amount of upcoming RPG titles, many of which it shares in development with its console counterparts, but all in all, it is clearly in the lead (although admittedly by a tiny margin). This identifies one very important trend in the video gaming industry as it relates to the PC: RPGs are on the rise and will continue to dominate PC development in the next few years to come.

I for one, cant wait.